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Oral Arguments

The AMC3 competition features three rounds of oral arguments over four days in November at the State Capitol as part of the TISL General AssemblyIn each round, the presiding justice — a member of the Tennessee Intercollegiate Supreme Court — casts one ballot. Jurors of view — professional lawyers and law students, who watch without participating — cast two. 

At the end of the round, the teams with the highest scores advance. The top two teams will compete to win the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge. Semi-finals consist of three Justices of TISC and Jurors of View.

 

Both advancing to semi-finals and winning AMC3 yields your delegation more points in the running for “best delegation,” however you get points just for having a participating AMC3 team!

Please note that between hearings, a very brief intermission allows people to enter and exit. 

The Anatomy of a Round

Each team will speak for a total of up to 20 minutes; each oral argument has the sequence.

Before The Round Begins- Tell the clerk how much time, if any, you reserve for rebuttal and which lawyer will present the rebuttal.

Steps

  1. Team A for the Petitioner(maximum 10 minutes each minus up to seven minutes of rebuttal time for one lawyer)

    1. Lawyer 1

    2. Lawyer 2

  2. Team B For the Petitioner(maximum 10 minutes each)

    1. Lawyer 1

    2. Lawyer 2

  3. Rebuttal by Team A (one lawyer for up to seven minutes)

Tips for Success

Read Case Authorities Closely- Some of the most major and modern overhauls in U.S. law are often based on dissents from past cases. While Supreme Court precedent is important, District and Circuit Court rulings can also support an argument. Teams that have a firm understanding of precedent will have an advantage. Be sure to show off this quality in the round by not only supporting your own team’s argument but also by weakening the opponent's argument in rebuttal. Do not cite cases outside the scope of what TISC provides within its case authorities.

Practice Your Oral Arguments- The less reliant you can be on your notes coming into the competition, the bigger advantage you will have over other competitors. Great teams are often very structured in oral arguments and offer logical roadmaps for audiences to follow their presentation. Practice with your team and ask each other questions as a justice would in the round. When receiving questions from a justice, remain calm and give the best answer you can. Never ignore a question. Always try to give an answer. Teams that can smoothly incorporate even a seemingly unrelated question back into their argument before picking up where they left off tend to receive better reviews. Remember, jurors of view are volunteers and will not know the case as well as you do, so your argument needs to fully communicate your position to them.

Record Yourself- Listen to how you speak and how you move. Always speak clearly and professionally. Use inflection, but keep in mind that this competition isn't theatrical. Do not pace or make grand sweeping movements. Aim for a professional and comfortable appearance.

 

Don’t Be “Stiff”- Advocates should strive to be confident in their presentation. While it is important to be professional in your conversational tone, make sure to avoid being stiff in oral arguments. Avoid being too robotic or rehearsed; the point of oral arguments is to engage with the case, justice, and audience in a conversational, confident, and meaningful manner.

Reference Material